Setlist History: Van Halen Reunites with David Lee Roth adds Wolf

Van Halen made some major moves on September 27, 2007.

They officially called an end of the Van Hagar era when the brothers parted ways with Sammy Hagar.

They also said ciao to their longtime bassist Michael Anthony who not only played beautifully but provided some of those classic VH background vocals we've grown to love.

Van Halen Press Conference before the tour kickoff in 2007.

Back on the mic is Diamond David Lee Roth and on bass is Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang, the nephew of drummer Alex.

So the audience at the Blockbuster Arena in Charlotte got to see three Van Halens led by an extremely appreciative Roth bring back some of the swagger and song to the setlist.

The first song back together was the Kinks cover of "You Really Got Me" from their debut.

Just take a look at the first half of that set. Look at all those notes.

Look at how many songs were buried during the Sammy years to make room for the new material he was writing with Eddie.

These are big songs too: "Runnin' With the Devil," "Pretty Woman," "Everybody Wants Some."

How do you not play "Everybody Wants Some!!" at a Van Halen concert?

The Foo Fighters and Pantera have covered it, but Sammy Hagar never did it with Eddie Van Halen smiling right next to him and Alex behind him waiting to beat those tribal drums?

But it's true: not since 1984 when Roth was shown the door had the band rocked the monster hit with the "brown sound" until that night in Carolina.

When Chuck Klosterman wrote about the tune, he said, "it’s impossible to imagine their catalogue without this tune, in the same way it’s impossible to imagine Rollie Fingers without a handlebar mustache."

Many would say the same thing about Van Halen without DLR.

"Everybody Wants Some" later in the tour in Toronto. Dave's trashy asides were very much missed.

The new arrangement of players sure was interesting. Sixteen-year-old Wolfie not only held his own with the classic rock giants, but walked around like it was no big deal.

Some would argue he was born for the role.

His playing was fine, but surprisingly his vocals were on point too. Michael Anthony and Eddie had been harmonizing for decades on songs like "Beautiful Girls" and "Dance The Night Away," but Wolfie jumped right in the mix, every so casually.

Of the 24 songs in the set that night, the tour kickoff of the 40 date voyage, so many had been yanked from the darkest chambers of the VH catalogue.

These were songs that hadn't been played since 1980 until DLR's return: "Beautiful Girls," "Atomic Punk," "And the Cradle Will Rock..."

These hadn't been played since '83: "Little Dreamer, "So This Is Love?"

And these hadn't been rocked since '84: "Ice Cream Man", "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Little Guitars," "I'll Wait," "Hot for Teacher."

Indeed: "Hot For Teacher" one of the band's best guitar and drum songs was not performed as far as I can tell, during the Van Hagar years.

That's rock n roll blasphemy.

When people point at the amount of record sales that the Van Hagar situation realized, that's one thing, but let's pretend you're a 16-year-old kid in 1984 whose dad wouldn't let him see that tour. That teen had to wait till they were 39 to see Eddie Van Halen play "Hot For Teacher" live.

That's not what the founders intended.

"Dance The Night Away" hadn't been played in nearly a decade.

How was Dave? Dave walked more than he leapt, watched himself as he did his kicks, and smiled a lot, clearly pacing himself.

But as he once said when comparing himself to Hagar, "Sam throws a party. I am the party."

On that night Eddie was the star. Almost every song from their old songbook included a riff or a solo that the guitar hero shredded while barely breaking a sweat.

Pretty sure he didn't ever have a shirt on the whole night. Eddie was cool, fluid, fast, and melodic.

The newly re-tooled Van Halen lost a Michael Anthony, a seriously important part of the band, but gained a Wolfie, which when you look at how other veteran groups move members around, could have been far worse.

Wolfgang's new band, Mammoth WVH, spent much of this year touring. Last month they released their second album, cheekily titled Mammoth II.

In November they open with Pantera for Metallica. Tickets available on the Mammoth website.

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Last updated: 6 Dec 2023, 16:12 Etc/UTC